by Dan Rudt
Editor, Montgomery County Sustainability News  

EV Chargers Coming to Bethesda, Rockville

Electric vehicle charging stations are coming to Bethesda Row, Rockville Town Square, and Congressional Plaza on Rockville Pike. Miami-based Car Charging Group will install Level II, 240-volt, EV charging stations, manufactured by Coulomb Technologies at the three sites, all owned and/or managed by Rockville-based Federal Realty Investment Trust.

Drivers will have access to the ChargePoint® Network, an online network connecting EV drivers to unoccupied charging stations. That access means EV owners will have flexible payment options, mapping and driver support services and the ability to make reservations through their mobile apps.

“Besides the obvious environmental benefits, a big advantage of electric cars will be the ability to conveniently charge your vehicle when you’re already stopped somewhere on your daily routine,” said Michael D. Farkas, CEO of Car Charging Group.

Federal Realty has taken other steps toward environmental sustainability. Mike Kelleher, director of asset management for the company stated, “The partnership with Car Charging Group to install EV charging stations is the next step in the continual greening of our operations, which already includes the creation of biofuels through recycled oil and grease waste from restaurants at our Bethesda Row mixed-use development, LEED certifications at many of our recent developments as well as numerous energy efficiencies and minimized usage of natural resource at a number of properties throughout the portfolio.”

Very Special Food Event at Bethesda Green

“Changing the Way We Eat” is the topic of an all-day, free event at Bethesda Green on Saturday, January 21. No, it’s not a diet seminar. It’s a day of talks about the growing sustainable food movement here in Montgomery County and around the world – and how we can all hop aboard. The day will be split between live video sessions from New York City and local sessions in Bethesda where attendees can learn about the new Montgomery Food Council, preview a portion of a documentary-in-progress about our local food system and the Montgomery County Ag reserve, share a pot luck lunch of local winter foods, and meet others who are interested in a local sustainable food system. Click to the Bethesda Green event calendar for the where and the when and for more detailed information.

SemaConnect is Growing Fast

One year ago, SemaConnect was a startup with two employees. Today, the Annapolis-based company has a staff of twelve. By this time next year, the Maryland Clean Energy Center reports in its December newsletter, SemaConnect founder and CEO Mahi Reddy expects that number to double. His company’s product is an electric vehicle (EV) charging station.

The company developed the ChargePro, with features such as smart grid integration, RFID card authentication and sustainability reporting. SemaConnect also partnered with solar companies, including Advanced Technology and Research (ATR) Corp. of Columbia and TimberRock Energy Solutions of Frederick, to create EV charging stations with solar voltaic panels built onto them.

“This autumn,” the CEC reports, “the company raised $4.2 million to support increased production and signed a deal with 350Green, a California-based developer of EV charging networks, that will see 1,500 ChargePro units installed in California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York and elsewhere. Company officials estimate that recent developments will push SemaConnect’s revenues close to $5 million in 2012.”

” ‘When you talk about green collar jobs, these are the green collar jobs,’ ” Reddy said. ” ‘They are jobs that pay well and are right here in our state and really help establish our state as a clean tech industry leader. So I think this is all coming together and I am so happy to be part of it.’ “

Announcing an Environmental News Website Devoted to Montgomery County

This week marks the introduction of a new local Website, Montgomery County Sustainability News, or MoCo-Sustain.com. The site is dedicated entirely to publishing daily (M-F) news and information that impacts the environmental sustainability of Montgomery County. MoCo-Sustain.com includes links to local resources, and calendar listings of local environmental events, as well as the latest news. The Website is edited by Dan Rudt, who will continue to provide this column of Green News & Events for Bethesda Green.

Upcoming Green Events   

First Thursday Happy Hour @ BlackFinn, Thursday, Jan. 5, 5-8 pm, 4901 Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda. Ring in the New Year w/Bethesda Green. Join us for casual conversation and social networking.

What’s your New Year’s Green Resolution?

Jot it down with your name and email address. Bring your Green Resolution to the Happy Hour for a chance to win a BlackFinn gift card. We’ll share ideas and publish highlights on our website.

* Hear about upcoming Bethesda Green events
* Meet members of our Green Business Incubator
* Learn what you can do to make a difference in your community

RSVP through Meetup

Free Screening of Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? January 9, 2012, 7:00 pm, Brookside Gardens Visitor Center. Presented by GreenWheaton, with Brookside Gardens, Silver Spring Green and Safeway.  Join us to watch this engaging film about how single-use plastics affect our environment and our health — and simple steps we can take to reduce this waste.

Chronicling the global production, use and disposal of plastic bags and other plastics, the film documents the environmental consequences of these products, including the effects of plastics on a wide range of species, lands, waterways and oceans. Traveling the world on a fact-finding mission, the film also identifies smart alternatives and solutions. Plastic will never look the same again! Directed by Suzan Beraza. Produced by Suzan Beraza and Michelle Hill.

Free reusable grocery bags from Safeway will be available at the event on a first come first served basis.

The event is free, however, tax deductible donations to GreenWheaton are appreciated.

Please register now as seating is limited.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Wednesday, January 11, 4:00 – 5:30 pm., 4825 Cordell Ave., corner of Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, above the Capital One Bank, Bethesda.A team of volunteers, EOM supports all of Bethesda Green’s communication efforts. From recycling to energy efficiency, sustainability to green building/design, EOM expresses the organization’s various areas of expertise in a clear and concise manner via various media.  New members are welcome to join. More information here, or contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, 13th Annual Conference, “Farm to Institution: Making Local Food Economies a Reality” January 13-14, National Conference Center, Lansdowne, VA. Two keynote addresses on local food economies, six learning tracks, pre-conference workshops, farmer panel on advocacy and much more! Information and registration here.

MLK Day of Service 2012, Monday, January 16, 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Montgomery County will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at North Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and at two satellite site locations (Universities at Shady Grove in Gaithersburg and the Silver Spring Civic Building). That is followed by a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. at Strathmore Hall at 4:00pm. Volunteers can sign up to participate in this exciting event and learn about the great work that local organizations are doing, find out ways to get involved, and make a difference. More information and registration here.

Help the Hungry Food Drive:  Support those in need by bringing non perishable food items to the Bethesda North Marriott on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Food collection will be located near the Montgomery County Volunteer Center table.  Donations will go to Manna Food Center.

TEDxManhattan 2012: Changing the Way We Eat, Saturday, January 21, 9:00am – 5:30pm, at Bethesda Green. This all day, free event is a combination of live video from TEDxManhattan and local sessions at Bethesda Green. The event will highlight several aspects of the sustainable food movement and the work being done to shift our food system from industrially based agriculture to one in which healthy, nutritious food is accessible to all. Speakers with various backgrounds in food and farming will share their insights and expertise.

Learn about our burgeoning local food movement and opportunities to engage in our community, here in Montgomery County. No need to stay for the whole day. Drop in as your schedule allows. Local co-hosts of this event are Bethesda Green, Full Plate Ventures and Slow Food D.C.

Information about the New York speakers is here. The Bethesda program is outlined here, where you will find a registration link as well.

2012 “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge sponsored by CCAN, Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 11:00 am, The Beach at National Harbor, Maryland. For seven years, groups of people who care have plunged into cold bodies of water in our region to fight climate change, bring back the Arctic sea ice, and save polar bears. The Polar Bear Plunge is the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s biggest annual fundraising event. The money we raise during the plunge goes to support our programs to combat global warming at the state level in our area. Information here.

BG101, Wednesday, January 25, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Dan Rudt is the editor of Montgomery County Sustainability News, a daily news Website serving the local area with environmental sustainability news, information and events. 

by Dan Rudt

Chesapeake Bay Trust Spring Education Mini Grants Available

The Chesapeake Bay Trust Environmental Education Mini Grant Program awards up to $5,000 to support activities at schools that help promote awareness of and participation in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers and streams. Grants may be requested for relevant field trips, schoolyard habitat projects, watershed outdoor education, professional development workshops for teachers, or education materials, curriculum, and equipment that promote field-based Bay education. Spring projects should start no earlier than March 13, 2012. The deadline to apply is January 13, 2012. The Mini Grant Program is supported by a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Bay Watershed Education and Training Program. For more information, click here for a Word document from the Chesapeake Bay Trust Website.

MD Greenhouse Gas Act Gets Good Grades

Maryland’s 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) was designed to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. One provision of the Act called for independent studies to ensure that it improves reliability of electric service for consumers and industry, does not cause loss of jobs or significant increase in costs in the manufacturing sector, and will result in new, green jobs in the state.

The University of Maryland Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER) announced on November 2 that it has completed a pair of studies and concluded that the 2009 GGRA will not cause problems for manufacturing. In addition, researchers expect it will lead to improved reliability of electric service, as well as new jobs. The Maryland Department of the Environment, charged with submitting a tentative Climate Action Plan (CAP) to Gov. O’Malley by the end of 2011, commissioned the studies. Read more about CIER’s findings here.

Vehicle Cost Calculator

So you just paid a million-seven for your 16 cylinder Bugatti Veyron and you’re wondering how much you should budget for your morning commute? Rest assured, the U.S. Department of Energy has the answer. DOE just added a handy Vehicle Cost Calculator to their Website. The tool allows you to make side-by-side comparisons of emissions and lifetime operating costs of thousands of conventional, hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel vehicles from model year 1996 and newer. The calculator was developed by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The Bugatti, by the way, will run you about fifty-cents per mile for gas, and add 27,700 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere. Have fun with the calculator here.

Free Compost Bins

A November 2nd tweet led to this message on the Audubon Society Website: “Our Chevy  Chase location usually has free compost bins for Montgomery Co. residents. Give us a quick call before you come over to pick them up. 301-652-3606. We also have books and free info on composting.” Can’t beat that!  By the way, the same bins — used to compost grass, leaves and yard debris — are also available from Bethesda Green.

And Before You Compost…

It’s getting cold outside; soup weather is here. Consider, before you throw your vegetable scraps in the bin, turning them into home made broth and sauces. “Charis,” writing on the Mom’s Organic Market blog, suggests freezing your veggie scraps, bones, and apple cores, until you have enough of them to fill a soup pot, then boil them up for broth. You can read her suggestions here. And congratulations to Mom’s, who just opened a new market in Herndon.

Upcoming Green Events

EV Learning Luncheon for Real Estate Professionals!, Thursday, November 10, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm, One Bethesda Center, 4800 Hampden Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda (at the Bethesda Metro Station). Presented by SemaConnect, the leader in EV charging stations and software in the Mid-Atlantic. Join others for an hour long educational session on the importance of EV charging stations in office, multi-family & retail commercial real estate. Registration and lunch are FREE. RSVP: naly.yang@semaconnect.com, 410-384-4223.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Thursday, November 10, 4:00 – 5:30 pm., 4825 Cordell Ave., corner of Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, above the Chevy Chase Bank, Bethesda. A team of volunteers, EOM supports all of Bethesda Green’s communication efforts. From recycling to energy efficiency, sustainability to green building/design, EOM expresses the organization’s various areas of expertise in a clear and concise manner via various media.  New members are welcome to join. More information here, or contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

“Save Our Streams” workshop, Saturday, November 12, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Izaak Walton League National Conservation Center, 707 Conservation Lane off Muddy Branch Road in Gaithersburg. Participants will learn to collect underwater insects and crustaceans – indicators of water quality – with minimal environmental impact. Participants will also learn to test for basic chemical properties, such as the amount of dissolved oxygen available for fish, and how to share results through the Izaak Walton League’s user-friendly website. At the end of the training, participants will learn about sites that need monitoring on Muddy Branch. Extra training will be available for those who want to engage children in learning about stream ecology with fun and simple hands-on activities. A registration fee of $30 includes lunch, snacks and all books and workshop materials. To register, visit http://sosworkshopmd.eventbrite.com. For more information on the workshop contact Leah Miller, Izaak Walton League Clean Water Program Director, at 301-548-0150 x219 or leah@iwla.org.

Montgomery County’s first “Know Your Farmer,” Call-In Webinar, Wednesday, November 16, 8:00 pm. Montgomery Victory Gardens hosts “Challenges and Opportunities Facing Organic Agriculture in the 21st Century,” a discussion with Montgomery County farmers Nick and Sophia Maravell.  Nick is the operator of Nick’s Organic Farm in Potomac and one of only four farmers sitting on the prestigious National Organic Standards Board, while his daughter Sophia, who has studied organic agriculture throughout the world, is one of our nation’s new generation of aspiring farmers. Register here.

Montgomery County Green Business Crash Course Webinar, November 17, 8:00 – 11:00 am. Offered in partnership by Montgomery College and Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. The course instructor will guide you through the application process to accelerate your certification. More info and registration.

by Dan Rudt

Funding Threatened for Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

Tom Pelton of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation warns that if Congress slashes $23 billion from the federal Farm Bill, as it appears poised to do by next week, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative could be eliminated. The program funds farm runoff control projects in parts of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Maryland’s Eastern Shore; and the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The funds help farmers pay to construct fences to keep cattle out of streams, build manure control facilities, and plant strips of trees and grasses along waterways, among other things. Losing those funds, Pelton claims, would make it much more difficult to reach pollution control goals for the Bay.

States Agree to Form Northeast Electric Vehicle Network

Ten northeast states (including Maryland) and the District of Columbia announced the formation of the Northeast Electric Vehicle Network on October 19 to expedite the deployment of electric vehicles in the region and promote the use of alternative fuels. As part of their ongoing collaboration through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), the participating jurisdictions will promote all clean vehicles and fuels and facilitate planning for and the deployment of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and related infrastructure throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. The group will also work together to attract additional public and private investment in infrastructure for clean vehicles.

Americans Believe U.S. Headed in Wrong Direction on Energy

A poll released on October 19 by The University of Texas at Austin found fewer than 14 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction on energy. The 3,406 respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the job that 26 different organizations, corporations, institutions and government bodies were doing to address energy issues. Congress — with ratings of 8 percent satisfied, 71 percent dissatisfied — ranked dead last. “This survey shows that the public craves leadership on energy issues,” said Bill Powers, President of The University of Texas at Austin. The majority of Americans see energy prices as high and likely to increase. Four out of five are interested in learning more about how to reduce their energy use.

Energy Department to Invest $60 Million in Concentrating Solar Power Technologies

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced on Tuesday (10/25) a $60 million investment over three years for applied scientific research to advance Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies. CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight to produce heat, which can then be used to produce electricity. The funding is meant to support research into technologies that have the potential to dramatically increase efficiency, lower costs, and deliver more reliable performance than existing commercial and near-commercial CSP systems. DOE expects to fund roughly 20 – 22 projects, and encourages industry, universities, and National Laboratories to apply.

2012 Beginner Farmer Training Program Accepting Applications

Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture is accepting applications up to November 30 from new farmers interested in participating in the Beginner Farmer Training Program. Five to ten trainees, mostly college graduates with some farming experience and a commitment to a career in sustainable and/or organic agriculture, will be selected to participate in the free program that begins on January 13, 2012 with a two day conference. Participants will attend workshops one evening per week for eight weeks in February and March at the new Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture. They will undergo field training on a weekly basis at an organic farm in Baltimore Country or Harford County and participate in farm tours and workshops from May through August at various sustainable farms in the region.

Upcoming Green Events

Peter Doo LEED EB: O+M Event, Thursday, October 27, 8:00 – 11:00 am, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor. Building owners, managers, developers and other building professionals are invited to attend a special presentation on LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance. Details here.

BG101, Thursday, October 27, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Maryland Clean Energy Summit, Thursday, October 27 – Saturday, October 29, Hilton Inner Harbor, Baltimore. Includes a consumer trade show and conference sessions that are FREE TO THE PUBLIC – on Saturday 10/29 9:30 – 2:30. Test drive a Chevy Volt, learn how to use your smart phone to control your home’s thermostat and lighting while you’re away, how to finance home energy improvements and much more. Click here, then scroll down to “Saturday, October 29th” for more information about the free consumer event.

Audubon Naturalist Society Annual Meeting, Friday, October 28, 6:00-9:30 pm (Program starts at 6:30 pm), Woodend Sanctuary,  MD. Featuring “Looking Back & Forward at Our Region’s Water,” a lively talk by longtime environmental reporter and renowned author Tom Horton. Silent Auction items include six original, framed J.J. Audubon stone lithographs and other rare works of art. More information here.

“The Age of Stupid” Film and Discussion, Friday, October 28, 6:30-9:30 pm, The Festival Center in Adams Morgan, 1640 Columbia Road, NW.  View the climate-change blockbuster film, followed by discussion w/ Mike Tidwell, Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network. More details here.

Rockville Bike Advisory Committee (RBAC) Invites You to Try Nancy’s Bike Route, Saturday, October 29, 2:00 pm. Ride starts at Rockville Memorial Library, heading south toward Bethesda.  Details here.

Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour, Thursday, November 03, 5:00 – 8:00, The Parva Restaurant and Lounge, 7904 Woodmont Avenue. You are invited for casual conversation and networking. Meet the Bethesda Green Incubator Companies and learn more about the Incubator. Enjoy complimentary appetizers in Parva’s beautiful second floor lounge. Donation requested at the door. RSVP at the Bethesda Green Meetup page.